Sunday, December 2, 2012

Broken Arm, but not Broken Spirit

Let me preempt this by assuring that everything turned out as well as it could have.  I know for absolute certain that the prayers from many loving family and friends helped make it so.

Also, I would have kept people better informed, except that that morning I left my phone at the store by accident, so I was limited to my mom's ancient phone.  But at least it had a camera in it, too.

20 years ago, you constantly heard about children breaking their bones when playing on the monkey bars.  These days it’s another venue: the trampoline.  This past Friday my 5-year old became another statistic. 
Leora, my timid, cautious little Kindergartner  was happily jumping on the big trampoline and came down on her left arm wrong- she didn't even fall OFF.  I wasn't there, but fortunately got home less than 10 minutes later. 

My brother, who had been watching the kids, right away iced Leora’s arm.  We braced her arm by cradling it in an old wrist brace and wrapping it with an Ace bandage.  Her sling was my sparkly pink scarf.  She was screaming and crying while I got everything arranged to take her to the hospital. 

My mom, who’s had almost 30 years of practice at motherhood- 9 years as a grandma- thoughtfully grabbed a few provisions (Leora’s favorite blanket, pillows, a sweater…), and we hauled ourselves to UMC (University Medical Center).  By the time we got there, Leora had not only stopped crying, but was bubbly and happy.  She charmed the triage staff with her giggles and characteristic sweetness.

She was in good spirits for the next hour, until she was called back with another little boy whose arm was in a sling.  But I didn't hear any screaming come from his x-ray room next to us. 
*cue my breaking heart*

Shortly later they took us to a room in the ER.  We met with the attending ER doctor, who upon initial examination seemed fairly confident that Leora had probably just jammed her arm.  It wasn't long before he came back with the x-ray results and news: her arm was broken.

The following 6 hours brought MANY doctors, nurses, and even (thankfully) family to our little room in the children’s ER.  The main concern seemed to be about whether she would have nerve damage.  Various people asked her to show them a “thumb’s up”, an “A-OK sign”, and to cross her middle and pointer finger.  Since those requests usually puzzled her, I had her sign her name for them instead.  They were always delighted.  And she was always able to do it.

Fortunately Leora hadn’t eaten anything since before noon, so when it was determined that surgery was necessary, we didn’t have to put it off.  Another trauma patient needed the pediatric orthopedic specialist, so the doctor was already in the building.  They hoped to get Leora in first, while they prepped the other patient, but in the end the other patient’s needs were greater.

At one point before surgery, we managed to get Fred’s parents and my dad into Leora’s room with me and my mom.   My dad teased that the staff might make Leora leave so there wouldn't be too many people in the room.  The doctor was nice enough to pull up the x-ray scans, and we got to see the break for ourselves.  Leora had looked forward to seeing her arm bones, but by then she was blissfully morphined to sleep, after several hours of whimpering and squirming.

It was so great having family there.  My mom and I were overjoyed that my dad snuck dinner in for the 2 of us.  But more than that, Leora got to see them before she zonked out, getting hugs from all, and even a fluffy bunny from Gramma O’sen.  Before everyone left, the grandpas gave her a blessing, which was also reassuring for me.

They wheeled my little princess into the OR at 11:00 that night, 8 hours after the accident.  I had felt my Heavenly Father’s Love keeping me together through the whole ordeal, but as I had to walk away from the doors to the OR, I was finally overcome with emotion.  I’m so grateful that my mom was there with me.  And that I felt so strongly that my Leora would be OK.

The surgery took about ½ an hour, as they had predicted.  They let us back in to see her at about midnight.  She was resting peacefully, her arm neatly wrapped up, concealing the 2 pins securing her humerus bone (upper arm) so that it will heal correctly over the next 4-6 weeks.  Next week they’ll cast it, once the swelling has gone down.

(we had a great view from our room!  It was beautiful at night, too)

At 1:00am we were finally led to her room.  I was afraid the machines would keep her up, but she was able to drift off and stay asleep until 7:30am.  My mom stayed by her side while I slept a bit on the fold out couch bed thingy.  In the morning they cleared Leora to eat regular food after she kept down liquids just fine.  She enjoyed French toast sticks and a little bowl of grapes.  The grapes were kind of tart, so when we asked if she was going to eat them, she assured us that she’d already eaten one.

Again, the staff was great.  She was her happy little self, if not a bit sleepy.  At first it looked like we might have had to stay the entire day there, but in the end they were able to release us at about noon. 
Her biggest complaint through the whole ordeal wasn’t even her broken arm.  She hated the IV in her right arm and she was very hungry, repeatedly reminding us to take her to Chick-fil-A when it was all over.  Of course, moving her arm was terribly painful, especially before the surgery, but all in all I think it went as well as it could have.

Now for some “highlights” of the experience… or at least moments that made me (and others) smile:

She was a little scared when she met the first doctor.  He was very relaxed and cheerful, so she warmed up to him quickly.  Out of the blue she asked, “Do you have any elevators?”
He chuckled and assured her that they do.  When she asked if she could go on one, he made a deal with her that she could, whenever she finished the picture she was coloring (this was before we knew her arm was broken and that we’d be there for a long time).  The next time she saw him, she immediately asked, “How many elevators are there??”  The next morning she was excited when we assured her that she would get an elevator ride, since we were on the 5th floor.  It was just so sweet to how such a little thing could be such a happy distraction for her.

While waiting for our turn in the OR, Leora started crying more, feeling the pain and fatigue.  In mid sob her eyes fluttered wide open and she brightly asked, “Will I get a pink Christmas tree for Christmas??”  My mom and I seized the distraction, asking her what kind of ornaments we should get, whether we’ll top it with a star or an angel, where we’ll put it… They’re relatively cheap, so we assured her that we’ll have one.

When the night staff got us settled in our room after surgery, they asked if there was anything they could get to help soothe her.  We mentioned her cat obsession, which sent the ladies on a hunt to find anything cat themed.  When she woke up in the morning, she had a little hand sewn kitty in one arm, and her bandaged arm was resting on a pillow that had a pillowcase with a Christmas kitten pattern, that she got to bring home as well.

Throughout the entire ordeal, we made a point of telling people about how much she loves kitties, so she was delighted that everyone wanted to know about her pets, her favorite toys, why she loves cats… it was perfect.

Anyone who knows Leora well, knows she has an intense, irrational fear of dogs.  We’ve tried to help her get over it for years, but it persists.  Well, the staff had already completed the discharge papers, removed her IV and we were preparing to leave, when there was a soft knock and someone opened the door.  In padded a big yellow lab with one of the hospital patient support people.  Of course Leora’s initial reaction was fear, but we convinced her that Morgan was a sweet, gentle dog.  They even got him to lie flat on the floor, except for his tail happily wagging.  Leora bravely pet him a few times.  I was so proud of her, and grateful that their kind gesture didn’t end in a traumatized 5-year old.

(building with the magnetized nuts in a sort of library/activity room in the children's wing) 

The children’s wing of the hospital is incredible.  It’s only about 2 years old, so we hadn’t even known it existed until yesterday.  As when we arrived at the ER the previous day, Leora was in bouncy high spirits when we left the hospital.  She loved every little thing we passed, especially a corridor that was rigged with cameras, so that the projected screen interacted with her whenever she passed close to the wall (i.e. the wall appeared covered in butterflies that would scatter when she came close to the wall).  There were also numerous buttons all throughout.  Some produced sounds, others lights… Her favorite was the button that signaled a model train to emerge from its tunnel and chug around a platform above our heads.  We told her how much her model train enthusiast Uncle Ralph would have loved to see it with her.

As promised, we took her to Chick-fil-A on our way home.  She started expiring as we pulled in to the restaurant, but she still managed to enjoy her waffle fries and a chocolate milk.  She drifted blissfully off to sleep when we got home.  When she woke a few hours later, it was as if she didn’t even have a cast.  I was constantly getting after the kids to calm down so she wouldn’t get accidentally bumped.  She has been bright and happy ever since.

We are so deeply grateful for the love and support from so many dear family and friends- I only wish my loving husband could have been here.  I find it so ironic that Leora ended up being the first child to break a bone, especially compared to her rambunctious siblings.  But it’s also clear that she’ll get through this with the most grace of the bunch.  

“Leora” means “Light or light hearted” in Hebrew.  I don’t think any other name could fit her more perfectly.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Farewell Treats

Today was the kids' last day of school.  Next week they'll start attending Thornydale Elementary, where I went to for 5th and 6th grade, in Tucson, AZ!

We've only been here 3 months, but in that brief time we've met so many wonderful people.  Crickett Elementary was  no exception.  The kids loved their teachers and classmates.  

I stretched a box of cake mix to bake over 60 mini cupcakes.  I found the "OWL miss you" idea on Pinterest.  

I was going to do the same for Gregory, but then the Minecraft Creeper idea struck, I found this great creeper drawing here, and I dug out the sugar crystals from last Christmas.  

I love how they turned out, but what was even better was seeing Gregory's face when I delivered them to class.  The long "ssss" is to imitate the hissing sound Creepers make right before they explode. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Glowing Funny Skeletons

OK, here's a super duper quick and easy Halloween decoration, also brought to you by the Dollar Tree.  The light strand I got at Walmart, for about $4.

They sell Halloween straws that have little white figures on them, that you can easily slide off.  
The legs are separate from the torso.  Other people have used twisty ties to hold them together, but I am too lazy, so mine are dismembered.

Adds to the gruesomeness, huh?

That's it.

Thrifty Halloween Teacher's Gift of Horror

I've never done this before, but I'm posting a tutorial on how to assemble a nifty Halloween gift for your teacher.  I was inspired by this post, that I found on Pinterest (embrace the obsession!).  Then when I was perusing The Dollar Tree, inspiration struck and this idea was born.

apple + skeleton + candy corn = great teacher's gift!

And each spooktacular (oh, I'm SO original) figurine comes out to $3.25.  Plus tax.  Not bad.

You will need:
DT* - A frame that is deep enough to contain the candy corn
DT - Candy Corn (1/2 bag)
DT - A fake apple
DT - Decorative Halloween skeleton (4 per set)
DT - Glass Candle holder (2 pack)
dark Fabric or paper
hot glue gun
black paint
And your standard scissors, paint brush
*DT = Dollar Tree

Let the Assembly BEGIN!
1. Remove the bits and pieces from the back of the picture frame.  And toss out the lovely family photo.

2. Trace the frame backing onto a piece of fabric or dark dark paper.  Cut out the tracing.

3. Keep fabric/paper in place with a few globs of hot glue.  Reinsert into the picture frame

4. Paint the bottom and inner sides of the glass votive candle holder black.

5. Squirt a generous blob of hot glue (about the size of a quarter) onto the right half of the picture frame and press the candle holder onto it.
since it's a smooth surface bonding to a smooth surface, it will separate if wiggled too much, so try to avoid picking it up by the candle holder.
6. Clip the tag off the apple (ripping it out will likely tear out a chunk- hey, they're from the Dollar Tree).  Position the apple on the candle holder.  I liked mine at an angle, but any position is fine.

7. Apply a generous amount of hot glue around the top inner lip of the candle holder and quickly gently press the apple in place.
8.  Dismember your skeleton.  You can get away with just removing the legs, but as you adjust the other limbs, they may break of or come really loose, so be ready to reinforce the joints with hot glue (can you tell I'm a big fan of the stuff??) 
At first I thought I would have to spray paint the skeletons white to conceal all the glue, but I think it pretty much looks like cartilage, so it stayed.
9. Below is a picture of how your skeleton might look.  The red circles indicate necessary gluing  and the orange circles show places that might need reinforcement.
This part is a bit tedious, but hold each piece in place for about a minute, before moving on to the next limb
Begin gluing at the hips,
then the knees,
then the hand on the hip
then the shoulders, if necessary
 You're almost done!!

10.  Now it's time to anchor your little guy. (see blue arrows below)
First glue his right foot flat onto the glass.
Then glue the elbow to the apple
Next attach the hip to the apple
Last cross that left left across and glue  it in place onto the glass, bending the toes downward.

There's no "right" way to do it.  Each of mine turned out a little different.

11.  Now pour in the candy and admire your handywork.

It's surprisingly sturdy.  But I'm still not letting Kai have his way with it.

I loved letting the creative juices flow!  Hopefully they make it to the school in one piece!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Birthdays Synopsis

We are recovering from Birthday season.

Leora kicks it off August 17.  
Then Gregory picks it up again on September 15.  
Finally, Fred and Charla run it home together September 23.

I get Winter to myself and Kai rules over Spring.

It's been a great Birthday season, though.

We celebrated Leora's actual birthday with Inga and her beau, Eddie.

  We did a drive-in movie with popcorn. 

 Her cake had little fondant kitties representing each member of the family.

Then she got to celebrate it again in Tucson.  She was serenaded by the staff at our favorite Mexican restaurant, "Molinito's".

A month later....

Gregory enjoyed a family birthday.  He got to play Minecraft with his papa most of the day.  We had nachos for lunch and Cici's Pizza for dinner.  He got many Minecraft-themed gifts. 

The highlight that day was DEFINITELY when he got to pick out his own kitten from a shelter adoption group at Petsmart.   

It was just going to be Gregory getting a cat (to replace our lost Cinders)....

(no kitty could truly replace our beloved Cinders)

Then Charla fell in love with a sweet little calico.  We reasoned that since her birthday was 8 days away, the kitty could be her gift.  (Now Leora feels that justice will not be served unless she gets a kitten next year, too.)

Meet our black kitty,  Lapiz, named after a precious stone in "Minecraft" 
And our Calico Serena, named so because of her serene personality

And we wrap it up...

(sadly, I could not find my camera OR my phone during the party, so you'll have to use your imagination)

Charla and Fred celebrated their birthday together.  The invitation was open to everyone in the ward.  We had about 10 families show up, bringing food to share (we provided the chili dogs and cake).  We splurged and rented a bouncy castle.  We took over the pool, pushing out the drunk college students who usually dominate it.  The kids got thoroughly filthy playing in the beach volleyball court sand.  We wrapped up the party with a Pinata.  Fred got to give it the final death blow, spraying the delighted children with treats and Dollar Store trinkets.

The next day Fred's classmates came over for birthday fun.  Charla loved being the center of attention as she  eagerly unwrapped her gifts- they totally fawned over her and even let her give them little make-overs with her new play make-up.

One of them got to put his engineering degree to use by helping Kai assemble (and repeatedly put back together) a Transformer toy someone had thoughtfully gifted to the birthday boy.  Who wasn't Kai, but he claimed it as his own.

Throughout the week leading up to the big birthday weekend, and on into the next week, a stomach/intestinal bug slowly worked its way through each member of the family.  Somehow we managed to keep it from ruining the fun.

Now that the excitement has died down, Leora is already planning next year's birthday party.  Here is the list she made today: (Sarah M. is a little friend in her class, I first learned of when Leora interpreted this for me)

If you look closely, you can see words along the top, shining through from the other side.  They're from Leora's "homework".  
Kindergarten Vocab words so far are: am, the, little, I
She begs for homework, so I arranged them with her last name:
“I am the little Olsen”.  She loves writing it over and over again

PHEW!  That's a wrap!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why Cats Drink Water

At dinner my 4-year old theorized why cats like to drink water.  It went something like this...

Leora: I know why cats like to drink water so much.

Me: Why?

Leora: Because it reminds them of fish, who live in the water.  And cats like to eat fish.

That's sound logic to me.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Smell-Triggered Memories

For dinner tonight I cooked a German family favorite: Schnitzel and Kaesespaetzle (YUM!!).  It was also fun because I decided to whip out a table cloth and we used the good dishes and crystal goblets (nothing truly expensive- just special to us.  And shiny).

While Gregory acted grossed out by the kaesespaetzle (I had spaghetti noodles ready for him in anticipation of such a reaction), Charla inhaled deeply and exclaimed with delight, "OH!  This smells like Oma Gisela's house!!"

When we visited my mom's mom in Husum, Germany, this was one of the meals we ate.  That was over 1 1/2 years ago!  She turned 5 on that visit.  It was so heartwarming.  I'll have to call Oma Gisela to tell her about it... 

Notice our Steins in the background??  
Germany, too ;)
And Kai is up to being his adorable self.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


To get our official orders to move to Texas, there are about 1,000 hoops we have to jump through.  OK, maybe only a dozen (big ones), but it's still a pain.

Today I jumped through my "dental clearance" hoop.  They cleared me for moving!  I was also mistaken for at least 5 years younger.  Unfortunately, NOT because I look so youthful.  The dentist confidently estimated me younger than 25 when he observed that one of my wisdom teeth is crowning.

When I thanked him for the compliment, he explained that most people get their wisdom teeth between 18-25.  Oh well.  He encouraged me to get in touch with a dentist in Texas to talk about getting em' out. 


At Kai's dental clearance check-up yesterday we finally figured out why his 2 front bottom teeth are such different sizes: before breaking through, his right one had fused with the next tooth, appearing as one big tooth.  For some reason it never occurred to me to just count his teeth.  I would have come up with an odd number. 

They said it's uncommon, but should not indicate future dental anomalies.  Still, this IS Kai we're talking about...

Monday, June 4, 2012

My Boy and Me: 2 Diagnoses

We've suspected for years, but now it's official: Our 8-year old has ADHD/Asperger's Syndrome.  At the end of this school year we completed his IEP (Individualized Educations Plan), so we now have legal measures in place to ensure he has access to fair education and treatment (aka- he can't be punished for just "acting up").

Here's a link to a great site by a guy with Asperger's.  It has brief, funny descriptions and cartoons of common traits in kids with Asperger's Syndrome.  

While the ADHD has been obvious for some time, there is no clear test to determine whether someone is an Aspie.  The biggest indicators for Gregory are:

  • His severe sensitivities to stimulation, like light, sound and touch.  He gets irrationally upset and even outraged at people, accusing them of maliciously hurting him when they've just bumped into him in passing.  He can't stand tags, rough clothes or anything he feels is tight.  Certain food textures he can't handle either.
  • He gets hyper-focused on one particular thing for an extended period of time.  When he was little he was proficient in EVERYTHING to do with trains and construction vehicles- all the mundane details and facts that would bore most adults.  Right now it's Lego's.  He has numerous set numbers and pieces memorized, and calculates how much allowance he must save up to buy which ones when.  He even uses a Lego CADD program to design his own models (that we could then buy if we were filthy rich)  And he will tell you about it non-stop unless you pointedly ask him to stop- another common trait in Aspies.
  • He takes everything literally.  Sarcasm is a foreign language to him, meaning he tends to get offended by people trying to be amusing.
  • He's an avid rule enforcer.  Aspies are often referred to as "the policeman" of the environment they're in.  This doesn't usually win many friends :(  He also has to feel that there is "justice" in everything.  He has no flexibility with rules and sees most everything in black-and-white, A + B always = C.
  • He struggles with transitions.  We've been concerned that this could be a problem with the nature of the military being so mobile.  But so far, if he can anticipate big changes, like a move, he actually gets excited about it.  It's the unexpected, minute-to-minute changes that send his world careening into chaos. Like if we suddenly change our schedule that morning, he becomes very irritable and will even pitch a fit.
  • He rarely will look you in the eyes.  When I observe him in social settings, he is most comfortable with 1 friend or by himself.  Some Aspies are completely indifferent to whether people like them or not.  I think Gregory will be the type who is sensitive to it, though.

As for me...


More of surprise, but in retrospect painfully obvious, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type 2, which is the less severe type.

For me it explains so much of how I've lived the past 15 years of my private life (Biplor disorder usually develops in teenagers during puberty.  I'm certain that was the case for me).  People generally only share the best stuff for everyone to see on facebook.  At least I do.  I've often agonized about the perception some may have of me being a "super-mom".  Of course, those who are really close to me know better.  Like my kids :(

Now that I have a better understanding of why I respond to and perceive situations the way I do, I am able to be more subjective.  I've also started a conservative amount of medication that has made a vast difference in my mood swings.

I feel terrible about relationships that I didn't treat right, past and present.  Understand that I do NOT blame my actions on the diagnosis, but I can see now how my poor decisions were magnified by the disorder.  But now that I'm getting treatment, life is SO much more bearable and I can move forward.

When I was first diagnosed, almost a year ago, I was unsure about who to reveal it to.  There is a very negative stigma attached to anything to do with Bipolar disorder.  I was a bit ashamed and worried that people would think I'm some kind of psycho.

But I recently read a good friend's revelation on her blog about her struggles with depression and her realization that by keeping it to herself, she may be denying someone else the chance to make connections that they may need to seek help, or at least not feel alone in their struggles.  I realized that that applies just as much to me.

Medication and therapy have by no means cured me.  I still struggle.  But I no longer feel controlled by the passions and ambitions that used to consume my life.  I'm so grateful for the promptings of the spirit, and the support of my faithful, loving and PATIENT husband, that gave me the courage to seek help.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Blog Resurrected

oooooh boy.

15 months since my last post.  Almost 16.  Unforgivable.
 Facebook snuck in and took over my cyber-life-documenting. 

But lest you never see my numerous posts on facebook, be comforted in knowing that the Olsen family is, indeed, still living and breathing.  Even if it is in a sauna.

Let's see what some of the big bullet-points from the last year were...

  • 8 birthdays since my last post.  I'm not 30 yet..!
  • 2 Anniversaries.  Most recent was our 10th!!

  • 1 Baptism.  So Proud of our Gregory.

  • 4 nights spent in a hotel while our floors got ripped up downstairs after they had warped into treacherous peaks.
  • 5 teeth lost, the most recent one tonight.  All Gregory's.
  • At least 6 trips to the ER.  Some for sickness (Charla's debilitating UTI on Thanksgiving), the rest for stitches and butterflied owies (Kai bit through his upper lip.   Kai gashed open his forehead.  Kai, etc...)

  • 1 official business launch for Debbie, who, in addition to orders from individual clients, has had 2 house portraits commissioned by the corporation that manages housing for the entire Air Force, with the agreement to commission at least 2 more.  Who knew.

  • 1 family trip to Tucson (the first since Fred commissioned in 2008).  Everyone, our family and the rest of the flight passengers, arrived to our destinations relatively unscathed. 

  • Fred ran and survived (barely) his first Tough Mudder near Atlanta, GA, Feb 11, 2012.  He had a blast freezing to death with some of his coworkers.  And getting really muddy.
  • 7 cats total.  Black kitty, Ella, had a litter of 5 on Labor Day.  It was literally a dark (the power was out) and stormy night.  It was a wonderful experience, ultimately ending sadly.  4 kittens found great homes and we kept 1.  Before winter ended this year the mommy and kitten both disappeared.  

  • Countless tears shed by all.  Original cat, Cinders, still warms our feet with purring and affectionately claws the couch when she thinks we aren't looking.
  • 3 classes of Air Force Officer trainees, 13 weeks each.  Fred was their fearless leader and has been recognized by the squadron, unit, and even the wing.

  • 3 additional duties Fred has bravely held, each managing the various finances for all of Basic Officer Training (budget, pay, etc).  He's tired.
  • 0 days of snow.
  • $0 spent on keeping our house at 71 degrees year round.  Thank you to the Air Force for paying our utilities.  
  • 2 minivans.  Our beloved 2002 Honda Odyssey, nicknamed "Ci-Ci" gave up the ghost.  4 times in 1 month.  So she has been lovingly traded in for a sleek black 2011 Toyota Sienna EX.  Name yet to be determined.

  • 3 official diagnoses:  They have confirmed that Gregory has ADHD and Asperger's Syndrome.  Debbie is Bipolar, type 2.  More to follow.
  • 14 months of in-home speech therapy for Kai.  He just wasn't talking.  Which was only a bad thing because he was acting out aggressively instead.  He still needs more therapy, but he no longer bites, mauls, and careens into people to ask for things like "more milk".   
  • Fred pinned on Captain! 

  •  2 times the landscape maintenance crew cut our cable line.
  • Numerous fabulous Air Force social events.  This is our second duty station, but this is the first time we've felt like a real part of the military community.  Debbie has had a blast getting involved with the Officer's Spouses' group and doing various exciting things with other OTS wives.  She will dearly miss her sisterhood here.

And finally (just because you're probably wondering when this list is going to end and nothing else impressive comes to mind)

1 Air Force career change.

Fred was informed earlier this year that his current career field, Finance, is downsizing.  He could stay in and risk getting rifted (Military for "laid off"), OR change career fields.  While Finance wasn't exactly AWFUL, he hesitated about 1.6 seconds before accepting the offer (officially accepting it after conferring with me, of course).  So what does this mean?


As much as I had dreaded living here, all in all it's been a wonderful experience.  We've loved the community, Fred's assignment and all the people we've met in it, our beautiful historic house, the school on base, being less than 2 miles from Fred's work, the wonderful ward we've been in, and the free landscape maintenance... even if they did mess up our internet twice.
But the time is right to move on.  The way things stand, we'll be pulling out of Montgomery, Alabama July 28th, to arrive in San Angelo, Texas for 8 months of training before moving on to our next base.  We won't know where that will be or exactly what Fred will be doing until after Christmas this year.

I'm sure I missed other note-worthy experiences, but here's what I've got.  Hopefully I'll be more diligent about keeping this up.